A self-inflicted wound

I’ve got a hardware problem. I know I have a hardware problem . As a result I encountered a self-inflicted wound . . . <sigh> . . . or two.

When I last rebuild my computer system I was running on a bit of a tight budget. I had budgeted for $700. The rebuild cost was under $800 to replace all the bits I needed replaced. The result has been an awesome solid fast and reliable system with one exception. SSD prices at the time were a bit stiff so I scrimped. Instead of getting a 1T or 500G M.2 SSD, I bought a 250g. You can see where this is going. Because the only way to run a game without disk spinup issues is to put it on an SSD, storage space became a huge problem.

Once SSD pricing dropped I swapped out a failing 10K spin up drive (one of two) for a 500g SSD. I then moved all the system files I could to the new SSD to free up space on my skimp-purchased 250g (ugh, just ugh) leaving GW2 on my main drive. I earned a temporary “beauty”, but it was truly only a temporary fix. As time passed it became glaringly obvious I was in trouble.

I did a (supposedly) totally innocuous thing, swapping the positions of my two monitors, a 14″ and a 32″ (TV). Given how awesome Microsoft is (if you don’t get the sarcasm you shouldn’t be reading this) you can guess the result. It blew things up. Totally. I lost the .dat file for GW2, a file that takes hours to download. To add insult to injury, the file was showing in the directory, taking up disk space, but no longer connected to the GW2 install. Oh joy.

So I re-downloaded the .dat file, missing out on some really good guild stuff (missions) while pausing play time to achieve mastery of the .dat file download. I reiterate, oh joy.

So today, in checking the cleanliness and integrity of my file storage I mastered a Level Two self-inflicted wound. I use the Microsoft utility to clean my drives of extraneous files. I’ll give you one guess as to the file it deleted that should have remained sacrosanct. Yup, you got it.

I’m now re-downloading, for the second (third?) time, the GW2 .dat file. Oh joy.

Outgrowing the interface

When something is created, it’s not always possible to know the exact path its development will take.  I’ve written programs that changed wildly from the first iteration to the last.  A client will say “I need” and the program is bent/warped/sliced/blended to give the client what they need.  After a number of generations of these changes it’s no longer the same program.  It’s always better, but never the same.

This is what Blizzard ran into when the wrote the original interface for World of Warcraft.  The original was one bar of spells (the number keys) with movement keys and panel keys occupying the majority of the remainder of the keyboard.  For the start, it was good and everyone smiled.  Now it’s wholly inadequate and interface addons are a must.

One day I did trapping with a friend running the same spec.  In comparing notes, our dps was dramatically different.  We determined it was the difference in our interfaces.  She was running the Blizz UI against my conglomeration of addons.  Her toon was doing about half the dps of mine.  Yup, time to change the interface.

So here, in all it’s rambly make-it-up-as-I-go-along fashion, are my thoughts on what works and why.

In the Blizz layout you are using the least accessible keys and you have to press a key to change to a different set of available spells.  It’s the awkward row of keys, switching (and remembering what’s on each bar) that kills dps. If you’re trying to use the same hand to shift between spell bars, move your toon AND shoot . . . yeah, that’s not such a great plan.  Blizz, what were you thinking?  Yeah yeah.  It’s the path development thing.

I’m not saying you need to do things the way I do . . . not at all.  I have square hands with short fingers, the genetic luck of the draw.  (My sister, bless her heart, got the long elegant fingers.) How you organize your spells is going to entirely depend on not only your play style but your keyboard’s layout.  (I do my best gaming dps on a Kinesis Freestyle2 keyboard and with few exceptions only use the left half.  The right half is pushed away until I need to type in chat.  As a result I’ve changed a lot of my keybinds but that’s a topic for another day.)  So, here it is, my Bartender (green shading) and Buttonforge (unshaded vertical bars) layout.

Bar layout

Bar layout

Bars 7, 8 and 9 are the ones that swap when I change stance and they swap out the ASDF keybound row. My number keys are used for not-frequently-used spells or spells with long cooldowns.

Keyboard assigns

Keyboard assigns

Here’s a closer look at the keyboard emulation portion of the setup.  Notice I use the tilde key and the capslock key.  All the more frequently used spells are on the unshifted letter keys.  Shifted keys are less frequently used but still viable to use in combat.  Cntrl modified keys are very infrequently used and just as easily clicked with the mouse.

To make all this work it’s necessary to shift all character movement to the mouse.  I’ve got an eleven button Anker 5000 (discontinued model).  The only character movement missing is the walk/run transition.  This is my second Anker 5000.  I love this mouse.  The button layout is logical and easy to use.  When it finally dies I’ll buy another Anker product with as many buttons as is currently available.

One final thought on spell organization . . . if you run multiple classes put the same sort of spell in the same place so you can easily switch toons without a lot of fumbling.  I have multiple level 100 toons.  My dps toons are not that well equipped (~700) and they are always in the top 10, usually the top five.

So if your dps is lacking and you feel like an also ran in any party, raid or dungeon, consider looking at tweaking your interface.

Addons are King

I’m an addon whore. I have a list of must-have addons not quite as long as my arm . . . but close. And I’m fickle. What might be just the thing today is easily second best tomorrow. Master Plan might have been the best thing yesterday but Garrison Commander is lots better! JMPO Yeah, totally fickle.

One of the addons I really like is ButtonForge. There’s no way I use it to its full potential. Remember me? The really lazy one? I want to get there and have a good time but not break a nail or muss my hair in the process. Wrapping my brain around all the wonderful things ButtonForge can do is . . . uh . . . okay, we’ll look at all that great stuff another day. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So here’s what I like about ButtonForge. I can set my right side bars with keybinds so I don’t use any Blizz bars. Nice eh? AND, unlike the Blizz interface bars, I can drag stacks of stuff to the Buttonforge Bar. Need to know how many ogre stones I have in my bag? It’s on the bar. Mighty traps? Yup, that too. Woot! One bar 3 buttons wide and 14 rows long and I’m golden. Room for my mounts and their keybinds, hearthstones, logout macro, food and buffs . . . awesome.

Resetting the interface

Resetting the interface